Kathmandu: Nepal stepped closer to finalising a constitution for itself after four major political parties agreed to a division of the Himalayan nation into six federally-administered states.
In a major breakthrough, the four political parties -- Nepali Congress, the Communist Party of Nepal-Unified Marxist Leninist (CPN-UML), the Unified Communist Party of Nepal-Maoist (UCPN-M) and the Madhesi Janadhikar Forum-Loktantrik -- signed an agreement to this effect late on Saturday night.
They agreed on the division of the country into six federally-administered provinces and also came up with a draft proposal for the boundaries of the suggested states.
However, immediately after the agreement was sealed, many political groups opposed the agreement and launched protests across the country on Sunday.
All six provinces will share their borders with India, and of them, four will touch the China border.
However, there were reservations from parties over the deal.
The Madhesi parties -- representing the southern plains of Nepal -- and some indigenous groups opposed the deal, calling for an "inclusive" constitution.
The parties agreed that the president and vice president should represent different genders or communities.
The parties, however, failed to reach an agreement on the issues of secularism, threshold for political parties in the general elections under the Proportional Representative system and reappointment in constitutional bodies after the new constitution is delivered, said Nepali Congress negotiator Krishna Prasad Sitaula.
Sitaula said the Constituent Assembly will now be able to deliver the new constitution by August-end as envisaged.
During the Constituent Assembly's recently-conducted feedback drive, reducing the number of proposed eight provinces and inserting the "or" provision to ensure equal rights to both mother and father for transmitting Nepali nationality to their children were widely demanded.
The parties also agreed to increase the number of members of the upper house from 45 to 51.
As per the new provision, each of the six provinces will send eight members -- including three women, one Dalit and one disabled person or from a minority group -- to the upper house.
The other three members will be nominated by the president.
Some changes were also made in the language of the preamble and in the provisions of fundamental rights as demanded during the people's feedback.
Nepal's Constituent Assembly, a unicameral body of 601 members, has been tasked with drafting a new constitution for the Himalayan nation. The present CA, which also serves as the country's parliament, was elected in 2013 after the first Constituent Assembly failed to pass a new constitution.